Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: L Joao (44)
Sheff Wed: C Paterson (12)

On an incredibly frustrating evening at Hillsborough Reading were basically denied a victory, which would have seen them go a point clear at the top of the Championship, over ten men Sheffield Wednesday by possibly the most incompetent display of refereeing we are likely to see in the Championship this season. It is common to see referees to get penalty decisions wrong but rare for at least three, or possibly four, such clear cut incidents to go unpunished in one half of football. It should not have mattered however, given the number of chances Reading created to win the game. Bad luck, resolute defending, and poor finishing also played their part as Reading dominated possession from start to finish, but could not find the quality in front of goal to overcome a Wednesday side camped in their own half for most of the game.

For the opening twelve minutes Wednesday were happy to sit back and watch Reading string passes together around the halfway line and just inside the their half. The first chance of the game came after six minutes when Joao timed his run well to get on the end of Richards perfectly timed and weighted pass, but the in-form striker dragged his shot wide. Typically, Wednesday took the lead with their first attack. Holmes, caught out of position pushing forward, allowed space for Wednesday to break down the left. Reach delivered a perfect ball to the far post and with six Reading players back in the box to Wednesday’s two, nobody picked up Paterson who nodded the ball back across goal and inside the inside the post.

Wednesday began to concede free kicks as Reading stepped up the intensity of their attack and Olise struck the post with a free kick seven minutes later after Lees fouled Semedo on the edge of the box.

Wednesday kept everybody behind the ball denying Reading time and space. After thirty minutes Shaw flew dangerously into a challenge on Richards, who was lucky to escape serious injury, and referee Langford had little option but to send the Wednesday player off. It was Wednesday’s fifth red card of the season so far, and it has to be said, typical of the lack of discipline of sides managed by Tony Pulis. From that point Wednesday defended even deeper and abandoned any serious intention of attacking the Reading goal. Olise, Joao, Samedo, and Richards all had shot blocked or saved as Wednesday somehow clung on to their narrow lead. Just before half time Reading scored the equaliser their play deserved. Richards won a free kick on the left. Ejaria clipped the ball to the far post where Joao shrugged off Paterson’s effort to prevent him from getting to the ball, and nodded in the equaliser.

Pulis made three changes at half time and the siege on Wednesday’s goal resumed. Four minutes into the second half Referee Oliver Langford made a bizarre decision awarding a free kick in favour of Odubajo, who had only just come on, after he had brought down Richards from behind when he was clean thorough on goal. It was a staggeringly poor decision. Reading struggled to find a way through the sea of Wednesday bodies on the edge of the box and at times the lack of width on the right eliminated the option of getting behind the Wednesday back line. In the rare excursions into the Reading half Wednesday’s sole attacking strategy was for Paterson to hurl long throws into the box, which again is the hallmark of a Tony Pulis team. Reading dealt with their attempts with contemptuous ease. Frustratingly the ball was moved too slowly at times and free kicks were conceded needlessly which relieved the pressure on the home defence. With twenty minutes left Paunovic threw on Esteves and Aluko to provide more of a threat down the right. As the time ebbed away the activity in the Wednesday box intensified and three further crucial errors were made by Mr Langford. Baldock was kicked as he attempted to control the ball, Laurent appeared to be dragged to the ground and worst decision of all came when Reach blocked Laurent’s shot with his hand before clearing the ball. If anyone doubts the value of VAR they should watched the replays of these incidents.

The Reading players and staff must be commended for their post-match restraint and self-discipline in their comments having been on the receiving end of so many appalling decisions which undoubtedly cost them two points this evening. Perhaps they will draw some consolation from their dominant performance which underlines the quality of their play, and a point which takes them back into the top six.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 241 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.